Unless someone else reads the list again and discovers otherwise, Nigeria is totally out of the global ranking of universities in the 2020 version. Unlike before when Covenant University and the University of Ibadan and several others featured in one of the ranking exercises, mostly at the bottom, there is still no mention in the QS ranking rated to be one of the most serious because of its criteria of international students component, academic reputation, employers’ verdict, research capability and staff-student ratio, amongst others.
The ranking industry is a highly contested recent feature in education but it seems to have come to stay and being ranked is no longer a matter of choice. The question though remains for those still unable to make it big whether it is a challenge to be confronted or a challenge to be challenged. Critics say there is an objectionable universalism in the metrics but the global top universities are also those producing hair-raising research reports, much of the Nobel Prize winners and setting the agenda generally.
Africa is certainly the worst hit in the emergent ranking practice. Although the University of Cape Town has consistently emerged among the first 200 universities much of the time, far, far ahead of too many others, the rest of the continent are rarely found in that category. When Makerere University in Uganda, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania or the University of Ibadan in Nigeria appear, it is always far down. In the 2020 QS ranking, University of Cape Town came 198th and that’s all about Africa to talk about. All else such as American University in Cairo; Cairo University; the University of Pretoria and the University of Western Cape are far, far down on the list even as they still preceded many otherwise well known universities in the Western world.
The ranking exercise has definitely taken a turn with discomfort everywhere with the fortune of universities. Except few countries such as Australia, China, India, Singapore, all of them in Asia, many are wailing over the downward trend of their universities. Prompted by the line up in QS ranking which came out a few days ago, the United Kingdom seems to be wailing loudest. Although the two London based behemoths – University College London and Imperial College, London – are still in the global top 10, and others such as the University of Edinburgh in the top 20, UK is worried that Cambridge is slipping and that there is a general downward trend, according to a report reproduced unedited below from the UK’s The Guardian.
The 2020 QS Ranking had returned three United States universities in the lead, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University in California and Harvard in that order. They are followed by Oxford, California Institute of Technology; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; Cambridge University; University College London; Imperial College London and the University of Chicago. What the top 10 means is that the space is still the exclusive domain of just three countries: the US, UK and Switzerland, with Britain alone contributing four, almost consistently. That is Oxford, Cambridge, University College and Imperial College. Except California, no other global city alone contributes two universities to the global top 10 as London has been doing. In continental terms, the ranking exercise(s) speaks to North America and Europe! Given the enormity of power in agenda setting universities control, individually and collectively, the ranking also refracts contemporary global power configuration.
But what is a country such as Nigeria gonna do at a time a power such as the UK is grumbling about a downward trend, attributed largely to the Brexit crisis, (see Universities: Cambridge slips to lowest-ever place in world university table, June 19th, 2019)?